The Evolution of an Analytics Team
WCG recently turned 10 years old, and it’s gone through incredible changes over that time. And even though I’ve only been with WCG since August 2010, in those 18 months I’ve seen my little part of the business, the Analytics team, turn completely upside down. It’s moved 3 times, seen both clients and colleagues come and go, seen weddings, and welcomed children into the world. And I’ve got to say, we’ve got some pretty great digs now:
Go Ahead, Pardner.
As it’s grown from a small handful of incredibly talented people to a team of almost 40, the work has changed, too. Looking back, we’ve come through two, and we’re just starting a third.
- Figure it out. Get it done. When the team was sorely understaffed and we literally couldn’t hire people fast enough to keep up with sales, an attitude of “Make it work right. Make it work right now.” dominated. We were constantly flirting with having so much work it just couldn’t get done. Those were crazy, intense days, but fun. I wouldn’t go back to them now, but I’m glad to have gone through them. Once.
- It’s figured out. Now get more of it done. Once the key products had been identified and largely refined, and the processes to execute them had been developed, the next challenge became to build out our capacity to deliver those products as fast as we could sell them. (Which, it turned out, was pretty fast!) Our focus at this stage was building out tools and a sort of “tribal knowledge” so that we could work efficiently and have many, many projects in flight at once. This also let us sleep at night. (Sometimes.)
- It’s all getting done. Figure more out. Now, the analytics team is at a place where it’s largely self-sufficient. We’ve got good leadership, and enough tools and tribal knowledge exist so that most projects can get executed without requiring headspace from the more senior folks. (Where “senior” means you’ve been there at least a year. Ha!) That frees up those senior folks to dive deeper into the problems, and deeper into the data, and pull deeper and deeper answers out of the “information soup” that is the Internet.
Being a software guy as I am, of all the phases, I find the third the most exciting. But also the most daunting. It’s a “make or break” kind of time. The analytics team has built up incredible momentum over the past 18 months; so much momentum, in fact, that it’s continuing to roll even as the people who have overseen it stop pushing. While that gives the overseers time to reflect, it’s not a time to rest.
I like it most because this third phase has the most to figure out. The first two phases were about figuring out how to apply the data you have quickly and consistently; the third phase is about finding new data, and relating it back to what you already know. That represents incredible potential, but also incredible complexity. The analytics team will rise to this challenge, but it’s still intimidating, even from this far distance.
There are good things on the horizon. Even as we chase them, I can’t wait to catch them.